Review of the St Andrews Africa Summit 2017

Elischke de Villiers reviews SAASUM 2017.

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In its third year, the 2017 St Andrews African Summit (SAASUM) did not disappoint. SAASUM’s aim in hosting these Summits is to dispel “stagnant narratives” about Africa, and to encourage stimulating critical dialogue around African affairs. Having already explored the role of media shaping the perceptions of social and economic conditions in Africa, and enterprise and innovation in the continent with incredible speakers Prue Clarke and Afua Ossei, their lens now focussed on leadership and government in African countries.

Consisting of four speakers who have each successfully led an innovative enterprise to help improve African development, the panel was inspirational. The first speaker, Anton Earle, directs the African Regional Centre (ARC), an initiative of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), in Pretoria, South Africa. SIWI is a project that aims to create efficient, equitable and sustainable water infrastructure globally. The challenge Africa faces, according to Earle, is getting both governance structures and investment / business models right in order to create sustainable investment opportunities.

The second speaker of the day was Diego Menchaca, a young entrepreneur who is one of the founders behind Teamscope. Teamscope is an app that allows medical researchers in low-resourced countries (in other words, developing, third world countries) to access critical clinical information and collect data. With team members spread across the world, users have access to expert opinions. Teamscope’s aim is to empower people with limited medical resources in their communities.

Deogratias “Deo” Niyizonkiza was the third speaker. Born in Burundi, he escaped the civil war to study in the US. He graduated from both Harvard and Dartmouth before venturing back to his home country and setting up Village Health Works in his local village. Village Health works offers clinical and surgical assistance, as well as educational activities to the local community.

The final speaker of the day was Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, the former chairman of Shell and Anglo-American PLC. He is currently the chairman of the Foundation  for the United Nations’ Global Compact. He discussed how to be both a responsible and ethical leader while being part of major corporation. The UN Global Compact aims to put a human face on global initiatives by employing local businesses, civil societies and labour parties in attempts to develop and improve their countries.

The day ended with a panel discussion in which the speakers answered questions that had been tweeted in during the Summit. Despite running slightly over time, and not getting to all the questions, the event was fairly successful and informative and I am looking forward to the next one.

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